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  • iaindryden1

Out of your hole

(Excuse my missing two weeks, it’s been a tough-health year....)

Not another day like all the other days! Most of us must feel this each morning as we wake to Lock-in-lock-craziness. But hey, imagine you were your great, great grandparent - unless you were wealthy, your life would have been much more tedious than you imagine yours to be today. You’d rise, rush out to a menial job in a dirty, dismal factory, a cold rain swept field, a dangerous quarry or to cleaning filth left by the rich throughout their sumptuous homes. Each day would be the same, day-in, day-out for years on end and with little reward but survival…

Does lock-down feel a little easier now? Survival means treats such as fish, meat or the humble banana were rare events, daily meals were what we now call gruel . You’d also have to do all the usual chores, such a finding firewood or coal to light the fire in the cold, damp place you inhabit. Until the fire got going, there’d be no hot water, no kettle for that instant hot drink; you’d mostly be drinking untreated water from the well down the way, it would probably be brownish, taste rotten, but there’d be no choice. And that’s just the start. Outside your door is a hostile world.

If there was something seriously wrong with you, unable to work you’d have no income for the local quack’s dubious advice and you’d fester in your pain in the corner without medical help. Pain and ill health dominate the mind, dragging it into a hole so dark it is tough to peep out of. I know, I inhabit such a place much of my time, even right now as I write, but at least I have this lapdog to tap into, to connect me to the world beyond my house, and upon which I can listen to the radio…. Ancient you’d have no such props to fill your ‘boredom hole’. You might have family, but many people lived alone in minute, miserable, dank, dark, leaking rooms.

Does lock-down now sound better? That, and that alone, would be your private life, for you’d have little left over for a weekly glass of cider. Having lived that dismal existence, you’d face a nasty death…. Gone into an unmarked grave. In the eyes of your ‘superiors’ - a number, forgotten, not a personality who’d once had wondrous thoughts and ambitions.

Locked-out life sound quite good! OK, many had their family around them, but the young who went away for jobs didn’t…. My own mother, because she divorced my violent father, was completely on her own, impoverished, deep in the African bush. A highly educated young woman from a wealthy family who loved theatre, cafes, restaurants, dancing, so poor she couldn’t buy us shoes… we wore hand-me-downs. For me, a great childhood, but isolated torture for her.

As we wallow in sorrowful luxury, there are people whose lives are abysmal. I’ve seen them, in Kenya, India and in today’s London people sleep on cold hard pavements. It is sobering to know that we only feel sorry for ourselves when we don’t climb out of our clean little puddle to see the bigger, grubbier picture. Doing so improves our view of where we are, what we are, who we are, mainly because compassion is good for us, but also because of other factors.

Peep out, be brave, realise that no matter how bad it seems (unless you are seriously ill, or being bombed), others have/do cope with far worse than what you are making yourself miserable about. Take a deep healing breath, hold it in, let it out and look at the positives in your world. There are lots of things to be grateful for, but it is not easy, the little child inside wants to cry for attention so I pat him on the head, smile and get on with living a better life.

Distraction helps. Lying in my bed (=under a blanket ob the sofa), seeing that my puddle of misery is just that - miserable, so I encourage my mind to fly above a misbehaving body and become creative on my lapdog. A new book is under way, artwork is ready to sell. That’s my way. My wife, who had a two week nasty virus, no not The Virus, listened to radio, slept or watched TV on her lap-dog. Life, no matter what’s happening to us, really is what we make it.

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